Teachers as allies
I finally read “Teaching to Transgress” by bell hooks
The sympathy for the writer, who passed away this year, cannot be more than alive since the introduction:
“It surprised and shocked me to sit in classes where professors were not excited about teaching, where they did not seem to have a clue that education was about the practice of freedom. During college, the primary lesson was reinforced: we were to learn obedience to authority.”
Asking about the practice of freedom that one has in one’s activity in the classroom as a student and as a teacher: here is something interesting to do in the classroom.
“The vast majority of our professors lacked basic communication skills, they were not self-actualized, and they often used the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power. In these settings I learned a lot about the kind of teacher I did not want to become”.
I remember a little philosophy booklet by a professor at the university: as soon as I started reading, I patiently searched for the full stop of the sentence, sentence after sentence, in the middle of the next page! Here’s one way NOT to write, I told myself. Luckily for him, he never thought or wrote in English, but he was probably more Latin-oriented. So, I remember his page forever.
Being a teacher is an exciting topic for me, even if I find that not everyone sees the beauty of this field at first. I found myself in teacher training by accident, following a post-doc. I had never wanted to be a teacher, even though it was a profession that I could quickly be oriented to by others. I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
I learned to be a teacher when I saw that the students responded to my attempts like the strings of a guitar: I had to be the one to find the right chords, and then everything became harmonious. The students I meet always have my full respect. And I don’t necessarily ask for respect in return. They are free to give me their attention, comments, and respect. I want that they feel with me to choose to be the students that they want. So, in return, I choose to be the teacher I like to be.
Of course, I haven’t had bell hooks as a flesh-teacher, yet I feel like she is a great ally of me, Me as a student of yesterday, and ME as a teacher of today.
I hope students will feel my willingness of freedom in the teaching practices and beyond the academic content:
“it was a crucial challenge inviting us as students to think seriously about pedagogy in relation to the practice of freedom”
The title of this post is from this super book: